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Did you seriously just post that?

When Social Media first launched, it was a fun place to share photos, jokes, frustrations, thoughts, and milestones. There was a belief that what you posted on your online profiles or timelines was only distributed to friends, family, and those contacts with whom you chose to share.

Today, however, as social media permeates all aspects of our personal and professional lives, what you post online can have serious and lasting consequences. What do you need to be aware of when you’d like to post something to a Social Media platform? Follow our 8 steps to safer posting.

Posting, sharing, liking and tagging. These are some of the options we are faced with as we engage with the rest of the world through Social Media. We build our social standing and develop a feeling of popularity based on the number of likes and shares we get.

But when it comes to Social Media, sharing is not always caring and there are some things we need to learn to keep away from our digital personas.

Here are 8 things to ask yourself before you post or share:

1) Is this legitimate news? Fake news has become a big problem as more people turn to Social Media to get their real world updates. In South Africa, spreading fake news is actually now a punishable offence. So make sure you get your updates from a reputable source.

2) Is this my news? It is not your place to share someone else’s good (or bad) news on Social Media. Just because your friend called to say she’s pregnant, doesn’t mean she wants the word to know that yet. The same goes for photos, don’t post photos of other people without their permission (especially of babies and children).

3) Does this have any of my private and valuable information? Cyber criminals want access to your personal and financial information. Make sure not to post pictures of your ID card or visa, mention which bank you use or what your home address is.

4) Will this tell people where I am? I know its tempting to tell the world that you are in some hip coffee shop or on an exotic holiday… but don’t post your location. Rather wait until you return to tell people about your adventures, or cyber criminals could use that information to adventure into your home while you aren’t there.

5) Am I going to regret this later? In the moment, sending a nude may seem like an exciting thing to do and posting a drunken photo could lead to a few laughs. But what happens when the nude falls into the wrong hands and a future employer finds the drunken photo. Be careful not to post anything that could embarrass you now or in future.

6) Should I keep this opinion to myself? We live in a rainbow nation with a variety of political issues at play and a history of hurt. If you have strong political or cultural views that may hurt others or get you into trouble – best keep them offline.

7) Is this kind and respectful? Cyberbullying is on the rise as usernames give people the anonymity to say whatever they feel with no consequences to themselves. However, the personal damage done to people cannot be understated as suicide due to cyberbullying becomes more common. Let’s choose kindness and be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

8) Would I want my grandma to see this post? We all have people in our lives in whose eyes we would always like to be faultless. If you are about to share an image, an opinion or a rant – think on whether it would ruin their view of you and how you would feel if the whole world felt the same way.

Now, while you read these guidelines you probably just pictured Facebook and Instagram in your head… but did you know that all of these rules apply to Whatsapp as well? Yes, Whatsapp is a Social Media and so you should be just as careful when using the messaging giant. Just because you think you’re having a private conversation, doesn’t mean what you say may not make it out into the public eye.

And these guidelines don’t only apply to what you are posting but to what you are liking as well. Remember, by liking something you are agreeing with it and you can be held equally responsible in a court of law.

So post wisely and carefully consider before you hit that share button. Some things are better left unsaid.

Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.

For more information on how to keep yourself, your business and your family safe online. Follow Cyber Angels SA on any of our Social Media channels

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